2008 INFINITI FX35 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 24, 2008

If you want even more V-8 power, wait for the 2009 Infiniti FX 50 with a full 390 horsepower.

TheCarConnection.com’s team of car experts read reviews of the 2008 Infiniti FX to compile this definitive review. Editors at TheCarConnection.com also drove the Infiniti FX and have added driving impressions where it helps you make a more informed buying decision, and where it helps explain why some other reviewers hold conflicting opinions.

The Infiniti FX has been a curiosity since its 2003 introduction. It's taken some time to classify this crossover, because when there was just the FX, it was easier just to call it an anomaly. With the popularity of coupelike sedans and the new BMW X6 coupelike crossover SUV, the 2008 Infiniti FX is beginning to make some sense.

The 2008 edition of the Infiniti FX crossover brings with it new standard features and a base price below $38,000. The FX comes in two models: the V-6-powered FX35 and the V-8-powered FX45. The V-6 is rear-wheel drive in standard form, and can be ordered with all-wheel drive; it's standard on the V-8.

For 2008, Infiniti has added standard XM Satellite Radio to the FX, along with a body-color satellite radio antenna. Also standard: a leather interior, a 300-watt Bose audio system with 11 speakers, a five-speed automatic transmission, and a rearview camera (necessary because of the low seating position, high belt line, and big C-pillars).

Review continues below

The FX35's base price for 2008 is $37,950. Its standard 3.5-liter V-6 makes 275 horsepower. On top of its standard features, options also include a Touring Package, a Sport Package, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and run-flat tires. With all-wheel drive, the base price is $39,450.

The FX45, meanwhile, starts at $50,000. Its standard 4.5-liter V-8 makes 320 horsepower, and all-wheel drive is standard. Options include run-flat tires, a navigation system, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

What you get from either 2008 Infiniti FX is a responsive crossover with firm, sedanlike handling. For those with any familiarity of Infiniti products, this won't come as a surprise because this brand's cars have very good road manners. The FX is also built on a chassis that shares many important components and design features with other impressive machines, including the Infiniti G37 coupe, a car editors of TheCarConnection.com like a lot.

The FX is also a receptacle for all kinds of electronic "nanny" technologies. Ordering the FX's $4,000 Technology Package gets drivers the questionable benefits of Lane Departure Warning system (it beeps at you when you veer out of your lane), Intelligent Cruise Control (modulates your speed based on vehicles in front of you), and Brake Assist (slams on the brakes if you don't). In case you're wondering, these technologies simply do what the driver should.

Various editors from TheCarConnection.com refer to the exterior design of the FX as the Bionic Cheetah or the Atomic Toad. Take your pick, but know that the shape of the 2008 Infiniti FX creates strong opinions.

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2008 INFINITI FX35

Styling

The 2008 Infiniti FX offers discerning buyers a distinctive shape, proportions, and interior style that hint at its sporting pretensions.

After more than five years on the market, the 2008 Infiniti FX still stands out in a crowded field for its style. J.D. Power writes, "Infiniti's 'bionic cheetah' styling has aged well and still looks just as fresh -- and odd -- today as it did when it first debuted." Edmunds says it’s a surprise the concept-car shape ever was built; “with its sports car muscles and hulking linebacker stance, the slick Infiniti FX45 set a new standard for automotive design.” Automedia reports, “We rather like the FX45's radically curved roofline, raked windscreen and thin C-pillar.”

"The 2008 Infiniti FX carries over with no major changes," notes ConsumerGuide; 2008 Infiniti FXs do get new exterior colors. A Sport Package with distinctive exterior add-ons is available for the Infiniti FX; 2008 Sport models gain "20-inch wheels, aluminum interior trim and a dark chrome grill," according to Edmunds. Kelley Blue Book adds, "Standard wheels on the FX35 models are 18-inch aluminum alloy, with 20-inch wheels standard on the FX45."

Distinction defines the interior, too. Edmunds calls it "well-designed," though they also say the Infiniti FX 2008 cabin "doesn't feel as upscale as warm as some others." Gripping a "thick, meaty steering wheel," writes J.D. Power of the 2008 Infiniti FX, "the driver sits forward in the passenger cabin close to the front glass and facing a shallow dashboard that puts all controls at the driver's fingertips." Automedia observes, “real aluminum trim and drilled pedals signal serious sports car better than any shiny veneer would have.” Infiniti FX 2008s get new interior colors, too. "The FX's optional Brick or Espresso leather interiors offer a welcome respite from the usual black, tan and gray," notes Kelley Blue Book.

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2008 INFINITI FX35

Performance

The 2008 Infiniti FX defines "sport" in "SUV" with its athletic handling, firm ride, and powerful if thirsty engines.

For the Infiniti FX, 2008 sees no changes for its engines or transmission, but this shouldn't put off potential buyers, as the FX is still an enthusiastic performer.

As J.D. Power reports, "FX35 models feature 6-cylinder power and the choice of RWD or AWD. The FX45 is only offered with 8-cylinder power and AWD." The V-6 is rated at 275 hp and 268 pound-feet of torque, while the V-8 is rated at 320 hp and 335 pound-feet. Edmunds says the Infiniti FX 35 accelerates with "vigor" and suggests it "is quick enough for most and is much easier to find on dealer lots." The 2008 Infiniti FX is still "among the quicker SUVs...An AWD FX35 did 7.6 sec 0-60mph in our test; an FX45 did 6.7 sec," finds ConsumerGuide.

Like the previous years' Infiniti FX, 2008s still come only with a five-speed automatic. Various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com affirm that it is electronically controlled with a manual shift mode. ConsumerGuide says, "The automatic...is smooth but can delay downshifts, making the manual-shift mode attractive for quick passing maneuvers." On the Infiniti FX 35, "rear-wheel drive is standard," writes Edmunds, "though the optional AWD system has a rear bias to preserve its sporty handling characteristics." They add "all-wheel drive makes the entertainment a four-seasons deal."

All this exciting power extracts a hefty fuel penalty. According to fueleconomy.gov, the 2008 Infiniti FX 35 RWD achieves 15mpg city/22 mpg highway; the 2008 Infiniti FX AWD hits 15/20 mpg; and the 2008 Infiniti FX 45 comes in at 13/17 mpg. ConsumerGuide tested AWD versions of the Infiniti FX; 2008 FX35s averaged 15-16 mpg, while FX45s averaged 14-16 mpg. They point out "all require premium-grade gas."

The testers at J.D. Power enjoyed putting an Infiniti FX45 through its paces. They write, "[It] stuck with [a] Lamborghini Gallardo [on a curving freeway onramp], but just barely." They add, "The FX has serious stick...[and] handles like no SUV I've driven short of the Porsche Cayenne, and when stacked up against this German rival, it looks like a raging bargain." Edmunds has similar views. They note "the 2008 Infiniti FX35 could be considered a sport sedan in SUV clothing.... [It] attacks corners eagerly and generally feels alive on the road." The trade-off is the firm suspension setup. Edmunds warns, "its ride quality...might be too stiff for the average luxury SUV shopper." ConsumerGuide counters this opinion in their assessment: "FX compensates somewhat for its hard ride by being poised on smooth twisty roads, with great grip and well-checked body lean."

Reviews of the 2008 Infiniti FX's brakes and steering are mixed. J.D. Power feels it has "a touchy brake pedal feel and is equipped with heavy steering that will give the driver a workout in tight parking spots." Edmunds notes "its braking distances are short by even car standards and almost stellar by an SUV's." Finally, Kelley Blue Book comments, "The steering can feel a bit heavy due to the large tires...[but] under way, the FX's steering is tight and linear."

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2008 INFINITI FX35

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Infiniti FX coddles its driver and three passengers in very comfortable seats--four in a pinch--but isn't suitable for long trips with four sets of luggage.

The 2008 Infiniti FX was not designed to be a cargo hauler, and its shape proves that; however, it offers luxurious comfort for four passengers.

Various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praised the seats in the Infiniti FX; 2008 versions have seats that "are extremely comfortable and wrap themselves around occupants, coddling them," writes J.D. Power. They state, too, "The rear seats are comfortable, with surprisingly generous clearance between occupants' knees and the front seatbacks." Edmunds also likes the seats, declaring: "A well-designed interior features pleasant ergonomics and leather-lined seats that we've found to be especially comfortable." The 2008 Infiniti FX has "plenty of room" for four adults, "though the sloping roof can make things tight for taller rear passengers," continues Edmunds. ConsumerGuide notes of the Infiniti FX's rear passenger compartment, "There's above-average knee space and good under-seat foot clearance. Leg and back support are not the best, despite the presence of reclining seatbacks." For drivers of the 2008 Infiniti FX, they attest, "The available wheel and seat adjustments suit most drivers."
Kelley Blue Book reports that the "step-in height is low enough that entry and exit are easy, but the squat rear doors require tall passengers to watch their heads."

The Infiniti FX 2008 has a "very small" trunk, points out J.D. Power. "There are just 65 cubic feet of space compared to the 70-85 cubic feet found in most midsize SUVs," reports Edmunds. Piling on the 2008 Infiniti FX's shortcomings, so to speak, ConsumerGuide attests, "Swoopy styling limits height and total volume behind the rear seat, so forget tall or bulky cargo. The load floor is rather high, too. Cabin storage for small items is just okay."

Gauges are "clear" and set in a pod that tilts with the telescoping steering wheel, describes ConsumerGuide. They add, "Various buttons and switches abound in the cabin, and they need larger labeling...FX's cabin balances a few low-budget plastic pieces with appealing aluminum trim and good-quality upholstery," though.

Noise is not much of a problem in the Infiniti FX; 2008s with 20-inch tires transmit some "coarse-pavement tire thrum," finds Consumer Guide, which adds: "Engine noise intrudes some at full throttle...neither are annoying, though."

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2008 INFINITI FX35

Safety

The 2008 Infiniti FX is equipped with the usual safety features and performs well in protecting passengers in crashes, but be sure to check those blind spots often.

Visibility suffers because of the 2008 Infiniti FX's swoopy styling, especially to the rear, but the vehicle earns high marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for impact protection.

J.D. Power reports, "The [2008 Infiniti FX] was crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and earned a frontal offset rating of 'Good' -- the highest rating the IIHS offers. The Institute did not report side-impact test results." Edmunds reveals, "In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the [2008 Infiniti FX] scored five (out of five) stars for its protection of occupants in both front and side impacts." Kelley Blue Book says that it received four of five stars in rollover resistance.

The list of standard safety features for the Infiniti FX is lengthy. 2008 models are equipped with ABS, Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control, tire-pressure monitoring, and pretensioners and load limiters for the front seats, according to various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. "Drivers and passengers in all 2008 Infiniti FX models benefit from...dual-stage front air bags, front-seat-mounted side air bags, and front and rear side curtain air bags," reports J.D. Power. They add that on the Infiniti FX, "Rear seats are fitted with the LATCH system" for those with small children's car seats.

Optional safety equipment on the Infiniti FX 2008 includes a Lane Departure Warning System that alerts the driver if cameras mounted behind the rearview mirror detect the vehicle unintentionally moving beyond lane markers, according to Edmunds.

A serious safety flaw exists in the Infiniti FX. 2008 models do not address its "considerable blind spots [which] compromise rearward visibility," explains Edmunds. Kelley Blue Book notes, "Narrow side glass and a small rear window create large blind spots, although the standard RearView monitor helps alleviate this concern."

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2008 INFINITI FX35

Features

The 2008 Infiniti FX offers many pleasures, some of which are bundled in pricey packages.

As 2008 Infiniti FXs come very well equipped with standard amenities, the biggest decision is which engine to choose and whether it should power two or four wheels. The Infiniti FX (2008) can get pretty expensive if you go crazy with the options, though.

The 2008 Infiniti FX is offered in three models (no trims, per se): FX35, FX35 AWD, and FX45. J.D. Power details the Infiniti FX 2008's standard features: XM Satellite Radio, leather interior, a 300-watt Bose audio system with 11 speakers, 7-inch RearView monitor (that also functions as the radio and HVAC interface), 10-way power driver's seat, and an eight-way power front passenger's seat. "Dual-zone automatic climate control, Xenon headlamps, cruise control and split-fold rear seats are also found on all [Infiniti FX] models," they note.

Kelley Blue Book warns, "Some of the 2008 Infiniti FX's more attractive options are grouped into pricey packages and cannot be ordered separately." They helpfully indicate the Infiniti FX 2008 popular options as all-wheel drive (for the FX35), Intelligent Key, a moonroof, and a rear-seat DVD player. Kelley Blue Book details a couple of the 2008 Infiniti FX's packages. The "Technology Package includes DVD navigation, Lane Departure Warning and Intelligent Cruise Control [which] requires the Hands-Free package which includes Intelligent Key and Bluetooth." They also note that for those who "can live without navigation and a moonroof, the base FX35 is loaded with just about anything you might reasonably want or need."

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